This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Now the proclamation that we’re going to make today is taken from Titus 2:11–14.
“The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age; looking for the blessed hope, and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for himself his own special people, zealous for good works.”
My theme today is a message I’ve never preached before so it will be interesting to see how it comes out. It is “How To Face The Last Days Without Fear.” The Bible has a great deal to say about the last days or the end time, it starts in the first book, Genesis, and goes on from book to book through the last book, Revelation.
A few days earlier I was in a medical facility for some routine medical tests and I had at one time a doctor and two nurses there. They asked me, “What do you think about the condition in the world today?” I said, “I believe we’re living in the last days.” And rather to my surprise all three of them indicated really that they believed that was true. It was quite surprising.
So, I want to speak to you today about how to approach the last days. We’ve already heard in prophetic messages that this will be a time of severe testing. I believe that it will be the time of the severest testing that humanity has ever experienced. I just want to list very briefly some of the serious statements made in scripture about the last days. Then I’m going to go on to the really practical issues, how can we face these last days without fear.
In 2 Timothy 3:1 Paul says to Timothy, “Know this.” It’s very emphatic. You can be certain of one thing, this you must not forget.
“...that in the last days perilous times will come.”
The word that’s translated perilous only occurs in one other place in the Greek New Testament and that is used to describe two demon possessed men who came to meet Jesus on the east short of the Sea of Galilee. And there it is translated fierce. It says they were exceedingly fierce. So, what the scripture is telling us is in the last days fierce times will come. I think that’s a much better translation than perilous.
Paul goes on in that chapter to give the reason. The reason is the deterioration of human character, ethics and morals. He lists eighteen moral blemishes that will be conspicuous in the last days. Three of them are things that people love. The first is lovers of self, the second is lovers of money and the last one is lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. And with unerring accuracy, scripture pinpoints the great basic problem that faces humanity and not least the people of this nation. It is love of self. Self-love is the cause of the breakup of marriages, families, churches, society in general. The attitude is, “This is what I want. I don’t care what you want. This is the way I’m going, you can go your way but I’ll go my way. I know what I want and I’m going to get it.” And that attitude is really responsible for the breakup of the family. The breakup of the family means the breakup of society and really, the end of all structured order in society.
The other place where we are warned about what will happen in the last days, one of the other places, is Matthew 24:7–13. And here Jesus is speaking about the birth pangs, or the labor pains, that will issue in the kingdom of God on earth. And one fact about the kingdom of God is there’s only way into it. You cannot join it, you have to be born into it. Jesus said unless a man is born again he can neither see nor enter the kingdom of God. That is true not only of the individual, it is true of the earth. The earth can only enter into the kingdom of God through a birth. In Matthew 19 Jesus calls it the regeneration. And like every birth it is preceded by birth pangs, by labor pains. In Matthew 24:7–13 Jesus lists some of the main labor pains.
The first is nation against nation. And interestingly, the Greek word there for nation is ethnos which gives us the phrase “ethnic conflict” which is one of the conspicuous features of the present situation in the world.
Then it says kingdom against kingdom which I would interpret as political wars.
Then famines, pestilences and earthquakes.
Now listen carefully, Christians to be persecuted and hated by all nations.
Many Christians to be offended, in other words, to give up their faith and to betray one another for the sake of their own life.
Many false prophets.
Abounding lawlessness. How many of you who have lived in this nation for at least ten years would agree that lawlessness has been on a continual increase. I’ve lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1968 and I tell you, it’s today a totally different city from what it was when I came to live here. It’s marred by violence and ethnic hatred and crime that just didn’t exist 25 years ago.
And then it says the love of many Christians will grow cold. The Greek word there is agape, the word normally used for the special love of Christians.
And then it speaks at the end about the need for endurance. Jesus says he who endures to the end shall be saved. But actually the Greek is more specific. It says he who has endured to the end shall be saved. You’re saved now but to remain saved you have to endure to the end.
Let me just read that list without commenting because I think it’s very significant.
Nation against nation;
Kingdom against kingdom;
Famines, pestilences, earthquakes;
Christians persecuted and hated by all nations;
Many Christians offended and betraying one another;
Many false prophets;
The love of many Christians growing cold;
And finally, the need for endurance.
Now, you’ll agree with me that that is not a pleasant prospect. One thing I’ve learned about the Bible is to be objective. I started to study the Bible as a believer about 52 years ago and I made up my mind then that I would try to find out what the Bible really says—set aside human opinion, human interpretation, set aside my own prejudice. You see, we all have prejudices. Personal prejudices, racial prejudices, nationalistic prejudices, denominational prejudices, theological prejudices and others. But if you really want to hear what God is saying in His Word you have to lay all that aside and open your heart and mind in humility to hear what God really says. I’ve often told people if you’ve never been amazed you’ve never really read your Bible because it is an amazing book. If you’ve never been shocked you’ve never read your Bible because it is a shocking book.
I want to turn for my answer to this question, how to face the last days without fear, to the book of Revelation. I want to say I don’t have a chart, I don’t have a system of interpretation and I don’t try to interpret prophecy. My attitude is I’m open if God shows me something. And over the years He has shown me quite a number of things. But I believe that the first chapters of Revelation are the essential key to approaching the end days. If we don’t come by this approach we will be overwhelmed by the forces that will be released against us.
My interpretation begins with Revelation 1:10–17. John says:
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last; and what you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia and Laodicea.’ Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands...”
And I notice in Revelation when there’s to be a personal revelation of God the attention of the person receiving the revelation does not usually focus, first of all, on the person of the Lord. It’s as if we could not stand immediately being confronted. So first of all John sees the seven lampstands. Then he says:
“...and in the midst of the seven lampstands one like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes like a flame of fire. His feet were like were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace; and his voice was the sound of many waters. He had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.”
Now John had had probably the most intimate relationship with Jesus while He was on earth of any of the apostles. He was the one who reclined on the Lord’s bosom at the last supper and asked that question, “Who is the one who betrays you?” Even after the resurrection he shared breakfast with Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee together with a number of other disciples. But at this point John had a totally new revelation of Jesus. The revelation was so overpowering that he fell at His feet like a dead man. What was the revelation? My answer is he encountered Jesus as Judge.
You see, today we hear very little in the church about the fact that Jesus is not only Savior but He is Judge. He’s the Judge of all men. He will judge the church and later on He will judge all the rest of the dead. I think it’s extremely important that we come face to face with the fact that Jesus is the Judge.
And it was a terrifying spectacle. His eyes were like a flame of fire; his voice like the sound of many waters; out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; his feet were like burnished bronze in a furnace. All those are types of judgment. And when John encountered the Judge, he fell at His feet as one dead.
Now, I think it’s important that we all recognize that we will all encounter Jesus as Judge one day.
Let me just turn to 2 Corinthians 5 for a few moments. 2 Corinthians 5, I’ll read from verse 10:
“For we [and that means all Christians] must all appear [or be manifested] before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
And notice there are only two categories. Whatever is not good is bad, there is nothing neutral in God’s categories.
And then Paul goes on to say:
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
I wonder how many of us have ever come to know the terror of the Lord? How many of us ever preach from a background of the terror of the Lord? The spectacle of Jesus was so overwhelming that John became like a dead man.
Then it says:
“Jesus laid his right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the first and I am the last; I am he who lives and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, amen; and I have the keys of Hades and of death.’”
Now Jesus is presented not merely as the Judge but as the total victor over all forms of evil: sin, death, Satan, Hades. He had emerged totally victorious, there was nothing missing in His victory.
I want to point out to you that Jesus did not go through that for His sake because He always was victorious. He identified Himself with us that He might take our place and bring us into His victory. That’s the grace and the mercy of God.
Now the next thing that I want to point out to you there which I think is of tremendous importance is the first are that Revelation focuses on is the seven lampstands which are the seven churches. John saw Jesus standing in the midst of the seven churches. We all need to understand that God’s primary concern in history is the church. As Ruth and I quoted just a moment ago, “that He might present to Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” That’s where the focus of the Lord is. It’s not on the nations, it’s not on the politicians, it’s not on the military commanders; it’s on His church. We need to understand that we come first in the list of His concerns. If you don’t realize that you’ll easily be frightened. The first place John saw Him was in the midst of the churches walking to and fro, examining apparently each church.
Then it says at the end of that chapter:
“The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels [I prefer to say ministers] of the seven churches; and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”
We’ve just ordained a brother as pastor today and we who are in the ministry—pastors, evangelists, whatever, teachers, prophets—we need to remember the Lord holds us in His right hand. It’s a very solemn thought. We are in His right hand.
Then in the next two chapters, chapters 2 and 3, we come to the messages to the seven churches. I don’t want to dwell on them at length but let me point out to you that every message was sent to a church. Anybody who was not in a church never got the message. I believe myself that normally, with certain special exceptions, God expects every believer to be a committed member of a congregation. If the message of Revelation were sent today and some of you were not associated with any congregation, you would never get the message. It’s only sent to the churches. But then at the same time the message is to every individual. If anybody hears my voice. So, it’s not enough to be in the church, you must be able to hear the voice of the Lord.
I’ve looked at the messages and I don’t want to spend a lot of time, but I want to point out two things. Five times to five of the churches Jesus says, “I know your works.” Let me point out I’m preaching from the New King James and it has that phrase seven times. But if you look at the newer translations which are based on better texts, it’s only five times. I don’t want to confuse you. I love the New King James, I think myself it’s closer in spirit to the words of God than any other but they did not have available some of the textual knowledge that recent translators have. Don’t be confused if you have the New King James, you’ll find it there seven times. In the other more recent versions you’ll find it five times. But at least five times Jesus said, “I know your works.”
That’s significant. He didn’t say, “I know your denominational label.” He didn’t say, “I’m familiar with your statement of faith.” He didn’t say, “I know your church program.” He said, “I know what you’re doing.” And that’s what matters. It’s not what we say, it’s what we do.
And five times to five of the seven churches His first commandment was repent. So, people have said to me sometimes, “Do Christians ever need to repent?” My answer is at least five out of seven churches needed to repent. From what I know of contemporary churches I would say the proportion would not be any lower. I could believe it would be seven out of seven. And remember, repentance is the key to everything else. If you bypass repentance you can never have true faith. You can seek and call out for the blessings of God but they’ll never really come your way because the first condition is repentance. When John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, his message was repent. And when Jesus began to preach, His first public utterance was, “Repent and believe the gospel.” On the Day of Pentecost when the unconverted multitudes said to Peter, “What must we do?” the first thing Peter said was, “Repent and let every one of you get baptized.”
To be baptized without being repentant is a waste of time. Paul told the Ephesian elders the message that he brought amongst them, he said:
“I did not fail to teach you both publicly and in every house repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So repentance comes first. I’ve spent a lot of time in past years counseling Christians with problems. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are limits to what can be accomplished by counseling. Sometimes I think it’s more important to cast out the demons than to spend a lot of time counseling. But, one conclusion I arrived at was at least 50 percent of Christians’ problems are due to the fact that they’ve never repented. I suggest that if you are struggling with problems in your Christian experience, you better examine yourself whether you have really repented. Turn totally from everything displeasing to God and yield yourself to God in unconditional surrender.
The messages contain various main elements. First of all, commendation, praise for what is good, correction where things are going wrong, warning of judgment that may follow, and notice that the promises are given only to one kind of person. Do you know who that is? To him who overcomes. There are no promises in the New Testament to those who do not overcome. In Romans 12:21 Paul says:
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
And you only have two options, every one of you, myself included. To overcome or to be overcome. And the only thing powerful enough to overcome evil is good.
And right at the end of the book of Revelation in Revelation 21:7 God Himself speaks and says:
“He who overcomes will inherit all things; and I will be His God and he will my son.”
There are no promises of good in the New Testament or in the Bible to people who do not repent.
Now I want to go on from this brief overview of the churches to chapter 4. Ruth and I read chapter 4 together this morning as we usually read a passage. I was so overcome with the glory of it, I broke into tears, I couldn’t read. I discovered one of the problems of wearing glasses, which I do reluctantly, is that when you shed tears you smear your glasses. From time to time I have to pass them to Ruth to clean them up for me. But, I’m all right at the moment.
Chapter 4 is vital. If you bypass chapter 4 you’re not going to make the right approach. Chapter 4 is the throne room of the universe. We’ll just look at the opening verses:
“After these things I looked and, behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit and, behold, a throne set in heaven.”
What was the first thing he saw? A throne. See, again he could not look immediately at the one who sat on the throne but the theme of this chapter is the word throne. If I were to ask you how many times the word throne occurs in this chapter—which only has 11 verses—you might be surprised to know it occurs 14 times in this one chapter. The theme of the chapter, there is a throne that rules the universe. And everything in the universe is totally under the control of the One who sits on the throne.
That chapter reveals four aspects of God’s nature. Number one, He is holy. That is the most important revelation of God given in scripture. The word holy is the only word that’s joined three times with the name of God, once in Isaiah and once here in this chapter. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. I fear that there is very little understanding or concern about holiness in most of the Christian church in the Western world today.
The second revelation is He’s almighty.
The third is He’s eternal. He was, He is, He is to come.
And the fourth revelation is He is the Creator, He created all things.
Take time when you’re by yourself to meditate on those four revelations of the nature of God: holy, almighty, eternal, Creator. See, once you get a clear vision of God, the problems on earth take on a different perspective. But without that vision, I want to warn you, most of you will be facing situations and pressures and dangers which you’re not ready to face.
Now we go on to chapter 5 which is where the scroll that is really the book of Revelation is presented. It was sealed, as you know, with seven seals. In those days they didn’t have printed books but they had long sheets of paper or parchment that were rolled up and every book was originally a scroll. This chapter opens with an angel crying with a loud voice, a very strong angel. And he says:
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and to undo its seven seals? And no one was found worthy in all of heaven.”
And I’m doing what John did. I’m weeping. No one was found worthy to open the scroll. I believe the scroll is God’s plan to close the age.
“One of the elders said to John, ‘Don’t weep. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed.’”
I want to point out to you that when Jesus became a Jew it was not just for thirty-three years. Here He is in eternity, He’s still the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Judah, you know, is the name from which we get the word Jew, it’s directly derived from Judah. I often think that heaven will be an embarrassing place for anti-Semites. To think about the New Jerusalem, it had twelve foundations and twelve doors. And every name was a Jewish name. Furthermore, the name above all other names was Yeshua. So how can you feel if you’re opposed to the Jewish people, how could you ever feel at home in the New Jerusalem?
So, John is told the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed. And he looked around to see expecting to see, I’m sure, a very strong, fierce, warlike lion. And what did he see? A lamb looking as if it had been slain. I cannot overcome that revelation. The strength of God is not in physical strength, it’s not in human strength; it’s in a broken spirit. It’s a humble life. Brethren, if you want God’s power, don’t climb upwards, bend downwards. The great evangelist Moody once said, “When I was a young Christian I thought that God kept His gifts on shelves and the best gifts were on the highest shelves and I would have to reach up. I learned later the best gifts are on the lowest shelf and I had to stoop down.”
I’d like to read to you a passage from 1 Corinthians 1:25. Paul says:
“The foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
So the things that seem foolish to the natural mind and the things that seem weak are the things in which God invests His wisdom and His strength. And Paul was undoubtedly talking about the cross when he spoke about the foolishness of God and the weakness of God. What is weaker than a crucified man? What is more foolish than to allow your Son to be crucified in front of jeering crowds? I don’t know whether you’ve ever noticed this, God has never corrected that impression. Jesus was never revealed alive afterwards except to witnesses chosen before God. As far as the world is concerned, the last they ever saw of Him was a corpse on a cross. God did nothing to correct that impression. The weakness of God is stronger than men, the foolishness of God is wiser than men.
2 Timothy 2, I feel this is a lesson of tremendous importance to the contemporary church and especially the leadership. 2 Timothy 2:11–12:
“For this is a faithful saying, for if we died with him we shall also live with him. If we endure we shall also reign.”
See, I have a series that I preached years ago that had the title, “The Way Up Is Down.” The higher you want to go the lower you have to start. Jesus said every one who exalts himself shall be abased, and every one who humbles himself shall be exalted.
And in Philippians 2 after speaking about the humiliation of Jesus to the ultimate, not merely to death but to death on the cross, the next word that Paul uses is therefore.
“Therefore God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name.”
You see the therefore? Why was Jesus exalted? Not because He was a favorite son but because He met the conditions. I want to say to each one of you here, children of God, if you want to be exalted, come down. The lower down you come the higher God will place you. Today I see in the church such aggressive self promotion, so much personal ambition. I was thinking for two or three years the real problem in the church today is in the ministry and it’s personal ambition. I thought to myself I can’t find a scripture for that so I won’t say it. Then God showed me that was the problem of Satan himself, Lucifer. He wanted equality with God, he moved to promote himself and he was thrown down. And dear brothers and sisters, every one who seeks to promote himself will ultimately be abased.
Now we come to the picture of worship, verse 8:
“Now when he had taken the scroll [that’s the Lamb], the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints.”
Remember saints, when you pray your prayers come up like incense before God.
“And they sung a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for you were slain and have redeemed men to God by your blood out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation; and have made them a kingdom and priest to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’”
The worship started right at the center with those immediately around the throne. Then he says:
“I looked and behold, the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures and the elders. And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.”
Ten thousand times ten thousand I believe is a hundred million and ten thousand times ten thousand is a million. So, I don’t know if you can even conceive in your mind what it would be like to look out over millions of angels. The worship spread outward from the throne to the angels.
“And they said with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’”
And now here’s the final expansion in verse 13:
“And every creature which is in heaven and are on the earth and under the earth, and such as in the sea, and all that are in them I heard say, ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever.’”
So you see the worship is spread outward from the throne to the angels to every creature in the universe. And they were all united in praising God.
This is just a question by the way, I wonder how many of you know the song that begins “Unto Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb...”? I can never listen to that without weeping. Once you start it’s almost impossible to stop.
So there’s the throne. We’ve been taken through the picture of Jesus the Judge, His concern for the churches first and foremost before anything else. We’ve seen the throne room of God and we’ve seen the worship. If you go into the future without that vision I don’t think you’ll be able to stand what awaits you. I think it’s imperative that we see things from this perspective.
Now we come to chapter 6 and I’ll simply give you the Prince version. You don’t have to believe it but I believe that God has made this real to me. First of all, there are the four horsemen. We’ll read about each of them. Verses 1–2 of chapter 6:
“Now when the Lamb opened one of the seals I heard one of the four living creatures say with a loud voice like thunder, ‘Come.’”
And I want to point out to you that every one of these horsemen were commanded from heaven. They’re not the result of things that happened on earth. The initiative came from God, you need to know that.
“And I looked and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow. And a crown was given to him...”
That’s not a royal crown but the wreath of a conqueror in the games like the gold medal in today’s Olympic games.
“...and he went out conquering and to conquer.”
A lot depends on how you identify that white horse. I’ll say personally for me over the years it has become so vivid that the white horse is Jesus Christ riding out through the gospel through all the earth. I’d like to give you just one passage from Psalm 45 which I think ties in with that. Psalm 45, the first few verses. This is what they call a Messianic psalm. In other words, it’s a revelation of the Messiah. We’ll just read the first five verses. To me this is a description of the one who rode on the white horse. He went out conquering and to conquer, he was undefeatable. There was no power on earth that could defeat him. And the psalmist says:
“My heart is overflowing with a good theme. I recite my composition concerning the king. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”
And then speaking to this king:
“You are fairer than the sons of men. Grace is poured upon your lips. Therefore God has blessed you forever.”
And notice again the therefore. There was a reason why God blessed Jesus, because grace was on His lips. And if you want to be blessed, make sure that grace is on your lips, too.
“Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one, with your glory and majesty. And in your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility and righteousness.”
That’s no ordinary human conqueror because they are not marked by truth, humility and righteousness. This is a divine conqueror.
“And your right hand shall teach you awesome things. Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, the peoples fall under you.”
I believe those are the arrows of Holy Spirit conviction that can pierce human hearts and cause people to fall before Him.
Now going back to chapter 6 we come to the second horse.
“When he opened the second seal I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come.’”
And notice this horse also was commanded from heaven. It’s most important you understand this, otherwise you get a false perspective of what’s happening on earth.
“And another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another. And there was given to him a great sword.”
I understand that to be ethnic conflict. Something released on earth that makes people of one nation, group, attack and seek to destroy one another. And this is seen almost all around the globe today—in South Africa, North Africa, Israel, Yugoslavia, much of the former Soviet Union. And I predict that there will be no nation on earth which will finally be spared from this. I would ask you to consider what it would be like if that red horse began to ride through the United States, with so many different racial groups. We’ve seen a little of it between black and white but I believe there is more to come. I want to emphasize this horse was ordered from heaven, it’s part of judgment. Remember Revelation is in part a revelation of the judgment of Jesus.
The third horse in verses 5–6:
“When he opened the third seal I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come.’ And I looked and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales [or balances] in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and the wine.’”
This black horse to me is a very obvious picture of shortage and rationing. Denarius was a working man’s daily wage. So, a working man at that time would get just enough money to feed himself. And then it says “do not hurt the oil and the wine.” This is my personal understanding. The oil and the wine were reserved for the rich. And in the midst of the shortage there were those who were living in luxury. Basically that’s happening in the world today. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. And with some wonderful exceptions, the rich do not care for the poor, they care for themselves. They’re gripped by that spirit of self love.
Now we come to the fourth horse.
“When he opened the fourth seal I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come.’ And I looked and behold, a pale horse, and the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with death and by the beasts of the earth.”
Now that’s an obvious picture of famine and ensuing widespread death. It says actually it would affect the fourth part of the earth.
There were two horses. The name of the rider of the first was Death, the second was Hades. Death claims the bodies of men, Hades claims the souls of men. And notice authority was given to them. Where did the authority come? From God, from the throne.
Now as I meditate on those four horses there is one conviction that becomes stronger and stronger in me. It’s a message for God’s people. The message is this, the white horse has to stay ahead of the other three horses. We have to get there with the offer of mercy through the gospel before these terrible judgments fall on people. I think I can say that Ruth and I are motivated by a passion to see that white horse get there on time.
We’ve been privileged to see it happen in some cases. We were in Yugoslavia, as Mahesh also was, before this trouble broke out. We reached a number of people and my main books have been translated into Serbo-Croatian and are available there right now. I’m glad we didn’t leave too late.
This past May we were in Moscow and held a conference for a thousand leaders of the church, all of whom had been contacted previously either through my radio program in Russia or my books translated. And at the end one experienced leader who worked in Russia said, “I’ve organized many conferences but this is the best that I’ve ever organized.” He said, “I think it came at a vital moment because the cost of travel is going up so much that people will no longer be able to come that distance.” Some of them had traveled six days by train to get to that conference. I would like to say no where have I ever seen greater enthusiasm than in those young Russian people.
Ruth and I have a tape, it’s not a professional tape, it’s just of some of the worship in Russian. We don’t really understand Russian but when we need encouragement we just put on that tape. They knew how to worship God. The Bible says you’re to worship God with your whole spirit, soul, mind and body, with all your strength. And they did it. I mean, you didn’t have to get them worshiping, you couldn’t stop them. I learned Russian one time but that was years ago. One phrase that I’ve never forgotten is Esus despois (phonetic). How many of you know what that means. Jesus is Lord. They would sing that again and again, fifty times. I tell you, you have a lot of enthusiasm in this church, I love it, but you’re far behind the Russians. Most of the churches are even further behind.
Oh to meet people who are hungry, who are thirsty, who’ve never heard and don’t know. We had an intercessory team that came just to intercede, about twenty-five people. Just to prepare their way they went out in Red Square in the middle of Moscow and were holding a prayer meeting. You don’t have to do much in Moscow to gather a crowd, and a crowd assembled. “What are you doing?” One brother, a Dutch brother, began through an interpreter to preach to them just a very simple gospel message. And when he finished a young man ran up to him, threw his arms around his neck and said, “I’m a Muslim, I never heard before that God loves me.”
Brothers and sisters, you’re missing a lot if you don’t get involved in reaching the unreached. You can sit here in a comfortable church and have a wonderful time but the real rewards are the people whose heart is with those who’ve never heard.
And so, that’s our ambition, to ride with that white horse before the other horses get there.
This May we’re going to Kazakstan, Alma Ata, which is the capital, to have another conference there. I never knew where Kazakstan was until we arranged to go there. It’s one of the Muslim republics in the southern part. And the Muslims are turning to the Lord by thousands there. But they need somebody to ground them, to teach them. Our purpose is not evangelism, it’s to train the local leaders to do their job. Our representative who is a Dutchman has a plan to have a distribution center of our material in every one of the provinces of the former Soviet Union. He says if the doors close again it doesn’t matter, we’ll have the material inside.
So you can understand when I begin to talk about the white horse I get inspired. That’s so vivid to me. I see the other horses, the red horse, has advanced a long way. And in some places the black horse is there and in some places the pale horse. People are dying of famine in Somalia, parts of Yugoslavia and other places.
Brothers and sisters, what are you doing about it? What are you doing? Remember what Jesus said to the church, “I know your work, I know what you’re doing.” It’s wonderful to praise the Lord, I love it, I enjoy your praises. But that’s only the beginning. What do you do when you leave the church? What is the aim of your life? Is it to serve Jesus? To be available to Him at any cost? In any place? At any time? I’ve lived long enough and been in the church long enough to notice that very often it’s not the really gifted people that get results, it’s the committed people. Somebody said God only asks one ability which is availability. Are you available?
Let me just give you one other passage that speaks about, I believe, this period, and that’s in Isaiah 24. I want to back this up so you’ll see this is not just one single passage of scripture. I could find fifty passages that refer in some way or other to this. This is an amazing chapter, chapter 24 of Isaiah.
“Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants. And it shall be with people, so with priests; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor.”
In other words, neither wealth nor social position will protect you. This is coming on the whole earth.
“The earth shall be utterly emptied and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”
That’s the reason for the wrath of God.
“Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth and burned, and few men are left.”
And then we go on to the latter part, verse 17:
“Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitants of the earth, and it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he who comes up from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
But notice what’s to follow because this is the prelude to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. We go on to the last three verses, verses 21–23:
“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the hosts of exalted ones and on the earth the kings of the earth.”
So God will deal with the rulers on earth and He’ll deal with the principalities and powers in the heavenlies.
“They will be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit [or the dungeon], and will be shut up in the prison; and after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed...”
Do you know why? Because their light will be so pale in comparison with the glory of God.
“Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders gloriously.”
So that’s what precedes the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. If you want the kingdom you have to be prepared for the birth pangs. No birth pangs, no birth.
Now, I could stop here but seeing we have so many Jewish believers here I want to go a little further. I have good news for you. You don’t hear much good news but I’ve got some. We’re going to go on to Revelation, chapter 7. I have to move quickly, time is passing.
“After these things...”
That’s the complete destruction of everything on earth and an earthquake which rocks the whole earth:
“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth that they should not blow on the earth, on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the Living God, and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’”
So before the final cataclysmic judgments come, God has something to do. He has a group of His servants who are to be sealed on their foreheads. And do you know what? They’re all Jews.
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.”
And then it lists the tribes and it omits one tribe, do you know which that is? Dan. Ask me why, I don’t know. I’m not ashamed to say I don’t know. But every tribe is included, 12,000 out of twelve tribes which makes 144,000.
Then it goes on:
“After these things I looked and behold, a great multitude whom no one could number of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’”
“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made the white in the blood of the Lamb.’”
I believe those two passages are joined in one chapter as cause and effect. The harvest from all nations, peoples, tribes and tongues will be gathered in by 144,000 Jewish believers. Jesus said the first will be last and then the last will be first. So the Jews were the first, they became the last, but the last will be the first. They’ll conclude the task of evangelism.
Think of 144,000 Spirit-filled young Jewish men turned loose. We can’t calculate what would happen! How many of you know the word chutzpa? Well, that’s one characteristic of the Jewish people. It can be good and it can be bad but they don’t get embarrassed, you can’t silence them. Nobody can shut them up.
Now I just want to go to the close of this which is in Revelation 14. This is the end of the 144,000. Incidentally, do you know what I believe? I believe there will be 144,00. Not 143,999 and not 144,001 but precisely 144,000. If you observe God’s dealings He’s very precise in all His measurements and all His numbers. I believe it’s going to be exact.
Now, let’s look at the end in Revelation 14:
“Then I looked and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 having His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
Notice that was the seal. It wasn’t revealed in chapter 7 but the seal was the name of Jesus and the Father. And you see, if you read the intervening chapters, the antichrist also places a seal on the forehead of every person that will accept it. So in the end I think every human being will have one or other of two seals: the seal of the antichrist or the seal of God.
“And I heard a voice from heaven like the voice of many waters and like the voice of loud thunders, and I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one could learn that song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth.”
They had their own song.
“These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.”
All the language is male, it’s all talking about males.
“These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”
What a testimony! To follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
“These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
As I understand it, they must be young, Jewish men, probably not more than 16, 17, 18 years old. Never involved in sexual immorality, set aside by the choice of God for this specific task.
I don’t know whether you’ve noticed but more and more evangelism is becoming the lot of young people. Have you seen that? Some of the most effective evangelism today is done by King’s Kids sent out by YWAM. See, young people don’t have the inhibitions that we older people have. They just go out and tell it like it is. That’s what God wants.
And listen, this is a beautiful testimony:
“In their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
What a picture, what a glorious picture! So in the midst of all the turmoil and the confusion, the suffering and the slaughter, God has His positive side. You can look at the positive or you can look at the negative. But believe me, brothers and sisters, if you don’t come to this with a vision of Jesus the victor over sin, death and the grave; as the Judge; as the only one competent to open the scroll; as the Lion of the tribe of Judah; if you don’t have a vision of the throne room of God and its power and its complete control, I think you’re going to be very fearful and disheartened and discouraged in what lies ahead.
I want to commend to you this picture of Jesus in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. And do you know what else He was in the midst of? The throne of God. Isn’t it good news that the one who is in the midst of the church is also in the midst of the throne of Christ. He can take of (unintelligible). He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is totally faithful. When He rides out of heaven on His white horse—and I didn’t have time to talk about the white horse appearing again from heaven, that’s in Revelation 19—when He rides out from heaven on His white horse, His name is Faithful and True. You can trust Him, you can put your confidence in Him.
I feel God wants me to say one more thing which is maybe a little unexpected. As I was thinking about this message I thought about the words that Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost to the Jewish crowd that had gathered. I just want to read one verse, Acts 2:14.
“And with many other words, Peter testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’”
Dear friends, we are living in the midst of a perverse and a crooked and an immoral and a dishonest and an untrustworthy generation. You need to be saved from it, you need to come out from it. You need to be changed, you need to be different. I just want to give you one opportunity. I know people have come forward already. Thank God for everyone that did. But if there is anyone here this morning, you’ve never turned your back on this godless world and this ungodly generation, you’ve never come out and made a commitment to Jesus, I want to give you one final opportunity to do it. If you intend to do that, just stand in your place wherever you are now. I’m not going to wait long. Anybody who knows you’re not right with God, you stand up, there are men and women here that will pray with you. Don’t be caught in the devil’s snare. Save yourselves from this perverse generation.
I know that there are those who need to do that. Stand up wherever you are. We’re not going to delay this any longer but I know there is somebody here. Praise God. Come down, make your way to the front and some of the pastors will be there. Thank God for this lady that had the courage to stand up.